In what turned out to be one of the most entertaining and intense matches of this year’s La Liga season so far, Barcelona got a narrow 2-1 win at the Vicente Calderón over Atlético Madrid. The resurgent Madrid outfit played a great game and were about to take points off Barcelona, but a superb free kick goal from Lionel Messi decided the final score.
Here are the ratings for today’s match.
Victor Valdés – 8.5
Had an excellent performance with several crucial saves, namely in the second half, and he had no chance in Falcao’s goal. He was one of the heroes of this victory.
Éric Abidal – 6.5
Had a very good first half, but was a bit shaky under pressure in the second half, struggling to contain Adrian and not looking as calm and assured as usual.
Carles Puyol – 7
Had the difficult task of marking Radamel Falcao; he was beaten a few times, but overall he did a decent enough job dealing with the great Colombian striker. Like Abidal, he didn’t look as calm and composed in the second half when Barcelona were under more pressure.
Javier Mascherano – 7
Had a solid performance overall, but had some trouble dealing with Atlético constant high crosses into the box (partly due to his height).
Daniel Alves – 8
Showed tremendous energy covering the entire right flank and scored Barcelona’s opening goal with excellent movement and finishing. A very good performance overall.
Sergio Busquets – 6.5
Showed great passing skills and reading of the game, but made some crucial mistakes. He inadvertently assisted Falcao’s equalizer and was very lucky to have got away with a handball inside the penalty area in the dying minutes.
Xavi Hernandez – 7
His passing was sharp as usual, but wasn’t quite at his best level and wasn’t particularly creative with his passes, perhaps because he’s just returning from an injury layoff.
Andrés Iniesta – 7
Had some good dribbles and touches and showed his usual class on the ball, but wasn’t as effective as usual today, partly due to Atlético’s well organized backline.
Cesc Fabregas – 6
Assisted Alves’s goal, but missed quite a few passes and gradually disappeared from the match in the second half, eventually being replaced by Pedro.
Alexis Sanchez – 7
Ran his heart out during the whole match and put immense pressure on Atlético’s players, fighting for every ball. Drew several fouls and created space for the teammates with his tireless work ethic. While he doesn’t have much to show for his efforts, the importance of his work on the pitch today can’t be underestimated.
Lionel Messi – 8.5
Wasn’t at his very best, but his run originated the first goal and his truly brilliant free kick gave Barcelona the win. Messi’s genius was the deciding factor in this match.
Isaac Cuenca – 6
Came into the match with 20 minutes left to play, but never had the chance to stretch Atlético’s defense with his incredible pace and dribbling.
Pedro Rodriguez – 7
Things didn’t go well for him in the first few interventions, but he quickly improved and even drew the foul that would result in Messi’s winning goal.
Gerard Piqué – N/A
Came into the match in the dying minutes and didn’t really have the time to make a significant impact.
These ratings have been written by Manuel Traquete. He is a lifelong FC Barcelona supporter and a freelance football writer who shares his thoughts @Manueltraquete
Image: JOSE ANTONIO GARCIA SIRVENT [MD]